The Master of Science in Communication Data Science is a cross-disciplinary joint degree program offered by the Viterbi School of Engineering and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
You will acquire a data-native mindset and a unique skill set that prepares you for a career spanning communication, content strategy and data analytics.
In a rapidly changing world where gathering, interpreting and analyzing data is increasingly essential, modern organizations are seeking professionals who can leverage both data and theory to shape their communication strategies. This first-of-its-kind degree program is situated in one of the world’s premier hubs for the technology and media industries. Offered jointly by USC Annenberg and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, the program blends advanced courses on media, marketing, and the human and social aspects of communication with foundational computer programming courses and advanced courses on data science, machine learning, data visualization, human-computer interaction, data stewardship, and AI ethics.
The data-native mindset you will acquire in this STEM-designated degree program will equip you to lead diverse, interdisciplinary project teams in delivering solutions to a broad range of stakeholders.
The curriculum is designed to be accessible to students with any background, including students with a communication background and no computer science knowledge as well as students with a computer science background and no communication knowledge. Students with undergraduate degrees in computer science, engineering, science, or mathematics will acquire the necessary knowledge of communication through the curriculum and can request to replace introductory data science courses with more advanced ones. Students with undergraduate degrees in communication, journalism, or social sciences will acquire formal and practical data science skills and a solid background in communication theories needed for data science.
Upon successful completion of the MS in Communication Data Science program students will be able to:
- Elicit requirements for data science needs in an organization.
- Design advanced data systems to collect, aggregate, and analyze data and information
- Leverage data and theory to inform communication strategy.
- Effectively communicate complex data and results to a broad and diverse range of stakeholders.
- Combine narrative and visualization skills to tell compelling data-driven stories that support diverse perspectives.
- Successfully lead a diverse, interdisciplinary project team in a data-rich communication environment.
- Learn fundamental concepts of data science that facilitate keeping abreast of the latest technological developments in a rapidly changing world.
A minimum of 32 units with an overall cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 is required for the Master of Science in Communication Data Science. Students attending the program on a full-time basis can earn the degree within four semesters. Students should consult with an academic adviser prior to registering for any classes. For curriculum information, please visit the Curriculum page. To apply, please visit this page.
International Students: This program is eligible for the OPT STEM extension.
Please Note: Requirements for graduation, course offerings, course availability, track offerings, and any other degree requirements are subject to change. Students should consult with an academic advisor prior to registering for any classes.
- A minimum of 32 units is required for the Master of Communication Informatics degree
- A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required for graduation
Detailed Program Curriculum and RequirementsSchedule of Classes
|Spring 2023 ||September 15, 2022
|Fall 2023 ||December 15, 2022*
|* DEN@Viterbi (Online Delivery) Deadline Extension: An application extension for Fall 2023 is available for online DEN@Viterbi applicants who intend to pursue their entire degree program online and do not require a visa sponsorship. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application extension.
On-campus students who apply by published deadlines will be considered for scholarships if admitted.
Online DEN@Viterbi applicants can view the Master's Scholarships (DEN@Viterbi) page for scholarship opportunities.
Visit our Ready to Apply page for more information.
Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Students with a bachelors degree in communications, journalism, social sciences, engineering or computer science are welcome to apply.
The following materials are required to be included with your online application:
- Transcripts: Upload Electronic Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. A mailed hard copy or official e-transcript is not required for admission to our programs.
- Submit an electronic copy of official transcripts (.pdf recommended) and other degree related documents through the online graduate application (International applicants, visit USC Graduate Admission’s Country Requirements page for details on required documents)
- Unofficial transcripts from university student portals are not acceptable
- If the transcript includes a separate grading scale, make sure it is also uploaded
- For upload purposes, all transcript related documents for a single school must be submitted as one document
- If you are admitted, you will be given specific instructions on submitting your hard copy transcripts
- Personal Statement: The personal statement should describe succinctly your reasons for applying to the proposed program at the Viterbi School of Engineering, your preparation for this field of study, study interests, future career plans, and other aspects of your background and interests which may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for graduate study.
- GRE: General GRE test scores are not required for 2023
- Letters of Recommendation (1 Required): Letters of recommendation should be from faculty or others (supervisors, professional colleagues, etc.) qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study.
ADDITIONAL MATERIALS FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS
English Language Proficiency: In addition to application requirements above, international students whose first language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or IELTS. There is no minimum TOEFL or IELTS score required for admission to the Viterbi School. For possible exemption from additional language requirements, you must achieve an Internet Based TOEFL (iBT) score of 90, with no less than 20 on each section or an IELTS score of 6.5, with no less than 6 on each band score. Please review USC Graduate Admission – Proficiency in English.
USC GRADUATE APPLICATION
The following is an overview of the tuition & fees for graduate engineering students. Both on-campus and DEN@Viterbi students pay the same tuition.
Per Unit Rate
|Fall 2022 - Summer 2023*|
|Fall 2021 - Summer 2022*|
|* Tuition is the same for on-campus and online students
ESTIMATED COST OF ATTENDANCE – 32 UNIT PROGRAM
MANDATORY STUDENT FEES - 2022/23
|Student Health Center Fee|
|Norman Topping Student Aid Fee|
|ENGR Computing Access Fee (On-Campus students)|
|ENGR Computing Access Fee (DEN@Viterbi students)|
$40 - $100 per course
|Health Insurance (U.S.-based health insurance is required, but it does not have to be through USC)|
Fall 2022: $805
Spring 2023: $1,468
Visit Tuition & Fees for more information
What were the main reasons you chose to pursue this graduate program at USC?
Because the Communication Data Science program is one of the kinds in the country and it perfectly combines the data science skills with communication theory. It is a STEM program, which increases my opportunity to find a job in the United States. Personally, I want to switch my career path to data analyst and data scientist.
Tell us about an exciting and unforgettable experience from your two years at USC.
I think it must be the moment when I cheered the victory of USC football team at the student section of LA Memorial Coliseum with fellow Trojans.
What are some personal achievements or experiences you’d like to share?
I have met many wonderful and great friends all over the world in this program. I also have learnt coding in Python and SQL, which I had never thought that I was able to learn several years ago.
Which organizations/activities have you been involved with outside of the classroom?
I am now a student assistant at Viterbi Admission & Student Engagement office, where I helped my supervisor with marketing work for graduate programs. I also used to join a research team under the Viterbi CSSE center to improve my coding skills last summer, which I recommend all students who have no background in coding to try since it is a great opportunity for us to open the data science world.
What advice would you give future Viterbi students?
First, try to connect with current student from the program via LinkedIn or Viterbi Student Ambassador program so you could learn the real information and experience studying in the program. Secondly, learn some introductory math, and statistical courses by taking elective courses from your undergraduate college or using online resources. Finally, research the industry, and try to find out what you want to do after graduation even before you enroll in the program.
Tell us a bit about yourself! Where are you from, where have you lived, worked, and studied?
I grew up in Shanghai and came to the US for college when I was 18. I graduated from USC Annenberg with a bachelor’s degree in communication in 2016. After that, I joined one of the biggest advertising firms worldwide and started working as a broadcast manager in West Hollywood. Working in the media industry has taught me a lot about maintaining client relationships, telling good stories, and working in a fast-paced industry.
What attracted you to come to USC and the communication data science program?
After working as a broadcast manager for a year, I realized that my passion is still around technology and innovation. However, I was nervous that my B.A. degree would not be the best step towards a MS program. After doing some research on the USC website, I found the Communication Data Science program, which is perfect for students who want to study STEM without a STEM background. I was able to keep improving my knowledge in the communication field while learning new knowledge on the data science side.
What are some classes or professors that shaped your time at USC?
I strongly recommend COMM528, Web Designs for Organizations, taught by Professor Freddy Nager. He is one of the most inspiring professors I have met. He always encourages students to speak up in class and he teaches very practical knowledge, like how to optimize your Linkedin profile to attract more recruiters, how to boost website traffic through search engine optimization, and how to improve website usability to facilitate more transactions. I still utilize these skills at work frequently. The second class I highly recommend is DSCI549, Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science. I was very nervous to study data science at first because I did not have a bachelor’s degree in science. However, this course has taught me all the fundamentals of computer and data science and I was able to “speak their language” after one semester. I would say this course is a “get your foot in the door” course.
Outside of class, what did you do at USC? Were you involved in any organizations, did you spend a lot of time exploring LA, or did you do any extracurriculars?
I started working part-time as an associate product manager for a tech startup when I was still in school. The program was very helpful as I was taking web design, app design, and coding classes and these are exactly the skills I needed for that role. It was the most fruitful period of my life, as I was learning new skills from school while practicing them at work.
What are your short-term and long-term plans?
Short-term plans: work on as many projects as possible to maximize my learnings at this current stage of my career. Long-term plans: develop a disruptive product that benefits society.
What's a piece of advice you'd give to graduate students?
Be open-minded. I had no clue what my dream job was during my first year in grad school. I started an internship as a project manager at a tech startup and the co-founder (who is also a Trojan) saw the potential in me of developing good products. He offered me this associate product manager role, when I didn't even know what developing a product was like. However, after thinking about it for one day, I chose to take the challenge and step out of my comfort zone. After a few months of learning, I realized that being a product manager is my dream job and it was the wisest decision I had ever made.
This degree is not available on DEN.
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